• Centuries of Style: Silver, Eu auction at Christies

    Sale 7800

    Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    17 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 335

    JOHN SMART (BRITISH, 1742/43-1811)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    JOHN SMART (BRITISH, 1742/43-1811)
    A preparatory sketch of Mr Dallas, in coat, white knotted cravat, hair worn en queue
    inscribed in pen on the reverse, 'Mr Dallas of Jamaica'
    pencil and watercolor on card
    feigned oval, 2 1/16 in. (53 mm.) high, modern rectangular gilt-metal mount


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    The sitter, identified by an inscription on the reverse as 'Mr Dallas of Jamaica' is possibly Alexander J. Dallas (1759-1817) who was born in Jamaica as the son of a Scottish immigrant. He was educated in Edinburgh and Westminster and studied law. In 1780 he returned to Jamaica and, after the death of his father, who excluded him from the inheritance of his estate, he went to the United States and had a successful career as a lawyer in Philadelphia. In 1793 he was appointed secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and secretary of state in 1796. He held this office until Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801 and he was made district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania. In 1814 he entered the cabinet as secretary of the treasury under President Madison and reviewed the cabinet's finances. Dallas recommended that the large financial deficit caused by the American War of Independence be plugged by loans and proposed the creation of a government bank. Whilst the suggestion was supported by most of the cabinet, the President did not give his approval and the bill was not passed. Dallas continued to support his proposal and strengthened his argument by claiming that the introduction of a large issue of treasury-notes would restore public confidence and raise the spirit of patriotism. In 1816 the bill was finally passed and the United States bank was created, significantly improving the government's financial standing. He retired from office in 1816 and died later that year.
    The present preparatory sketch corresponds with a finished portrait miniature by John Smart, signed with initials and dated 1782, in The Starr Collection, Missouri, USA, see The Starr Collection of Miniatures in the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, 1971, illustrated p. 40, no. 108 (sitter unidentified).

    Special Notice

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    Provenance

    Lilian Mary Dyer, née Bose (1871-1955), a great-granddaughter of the artist; Christie's, London, 26 November 1937, lot 10 (part lot, 10 gns to Workman).
    Peter Kaufmann Collection, Sotheby's, London, 13 October 1975, lot 86. Bruton Knowles, Gloucestershire, 25 April 1996, lot 77.